The (Golan) Heights of Insolence

Rhonda Ballance News Editor. E-mail:

Rhonda Ballance News Editor. E-mail:






The Obama administration has the effrontery to reject Israel’s ownership of the Golan Heights.

That upstart nation with less than a quarter of one millennium of history presumes to rule on whether or not land that verifiably belonged to Jews for centuries thousands of years ago is rightfully theirs today!

May the LORD God of Israel humble America – a mighty country that has tragically forgotten the Judeo-Christian rock from which it was hewn, the roots out of which it grew.

Israel’s weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday April 17 was held – historically – on the Golan Heights. It was, of course, not the first Jewish gathering on the high ground that IDF forces brought back into Jewish hands – as ordained and foretold by God – in the Six Day War.

The Golan Heights is saturated with Israel’s history – as recorded in the Bible and since.

For hundreds of years it formed half of the inheritance of the Israelite tribe of Manasseh.

It was included in the kingdoms of the great Jewish kings, David and Solomon

Two thousand years ago it was an integral part of the Galilee – which was a region in the Roman-occupied Land of Israel called Judea.

Jesus travelled near and likely even on the Golan, as the New Testament tells us of His presence in the region of Caesarea Philippi in the northern foothills of the plateau.

The large and formidably fortified Jewish town of Gamla – known as the Masada of the North – sits on the southern Golan. Its conquest by Titus and his legions in AD 67 is both recorded by Josephus Flavius – formerly the Jewish commander of the Galilee during the Great Revolt and the man responsible for directing the construction of the town’s defences – and thoroughly verified in the excavation of the site by Israel that began in 1967.

At least 20 Jewish villages and synagogues from the Talmudic and Mishnaic periods bear witness to the existence of vibrant Jewish life across the region up to 500 years after Christ.

Along with the Land of Israel, the Golan Heights was conquered and occupied by various Arab and other Muslim groups down the centuries. For 400 years it was part of the Ottoman Empire’s province of Palestine until it was liberated by the Judeo-Christian forces led by the British Empire in World War 1.

The Golan Heights was included in the area designated in the Balfour Declaration as intended for Jewish close settlement in readiness for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people.

It was only after Great Britain and France later modified the borders in designing the modern Middle East that the Golan was included in what would become a modern Arab country called Syria – one of many brand new Arab states that, unlike Israel, had never existed before in history as national Arab lands.

(Most of the Arab states are newcomers created post-World War 1. The Jewish state, on the other hand, has four millennia of history dating back to its founding fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Israel.)

Syria became an independent country in 1945, just two-and-a-half years before Israel was reborn.

From 1948 until mid-1967, Syria utilised the Golan Heights exclusively as a platform from which to fire on Jewish communities in the Huleh Valley below. A generation of Jewish children grew up with bomb shelters their bedrooms as often as not.

In June 1967, Israel drove the aggressors off the Golan in a self-defensive war, finally returning the plateau to Jewish control. Arab Syria had had possession of the Heights for a mere 22 years. They have been under modern Israel for more than twice that length of time, on top of the centuries when they were part of ancient Israel as outlined above.

In 1982, Israel passed the Golan Heights Law, which applied Israeli “laws, jurisdiction and administration” to the Heights, effectively extending sovereignty over the Golan.

This act, whether State Department official John Kirby – who on April 18, 2016 declared that “those territories are not part of Israel” – and his bosses are able to swallow it or not, simply brought the Heights back under the ownership of the aboriginal people of the land.

Who, then, do the President of the United States, and those Americans who support him, think that they are?

Of course, such statements and sentiments coming out of the White House and State Department simply accentuate the by-now universally obvious hostility towards Israel of the Obama administration, and put it and America on the wrong side of Israel’s God.



Who Were the Hittites?

Rhonda Ballance News Editor. E-mail:

Rhonda Ballance News Editor. E-mail:

Archaeology and the Bible give different answers

Who were the Hittites according to archaeology? As early as 1900 B.C.E., an Indo-European people began to settle in what is now Turkey. By the 16th century B.C.E., they were powerful enough to invade Babylon. Their might continued to expand until they were a superpower on the level with Egypt and Assyria. Relations with Egypt were particularly volatile and included the famous Battle of Kadesh and the eventual signing of the world’s oldest peace treaty. TheHittite capital, Hattusa, has been excavated, revealing a formidable and religious empire.

Excavation evidence shows that Hattusa was invaded and burned in the early 12th century B.C.E., but this was after the city had largely been abandoned. In the 14th century B.C.E., Carchemish in northern Syria was made a vice-regal seat. As the Hittites began abandoning the land of Hatti during the region-wide decline at the end of the 12th century B.C.E., they may have fled to this location.

Who were the Hittites according to the Bible? The Hittites play a prominent role at key places in the Hebrew Bible: Ephron the Hittite sells Abraham the family burial ground (Genesis 23); Esau married Hittite women, and Rebecca despised them (Genesis 26:34); frequently they are listed as one of the inhabitants of Canaan (e.g., Exodus 13:5; Numbers 13:29; Joshua 11:3); King David had Uriah the Hittite killed in order to acquire Uriah’s wife (2 Samuel 11); King Solomon had Hittites among his many wives (1 Kings 10:29–11:2; 2 Chronicles 1:17); and the prophet Ezekiel degrades Israel with the metaphor of a Hittite mother (Ezekiel 16:3, 45).


Who were the Hittites? At one time the Hittites were one of three superpowers in the ancient world. Tudhaliya IV (1237–1209 B.C.E.) ruled over the Hittite Kingdom during its heyday and is depicted here on a rock carving from the Hittites’ sacred open-air shrine at Yazilikaya, less than a mile from the Hittite capital of Hattusa in present-day Turkey. Photo: Sonia Halliday.

“The impression is that many Hittites are living in the land of Canaan during the time of the Founding Families … And this impression is reinforced by Biblical references to Hittites during the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah,” notes the BAR article “The Hittites—Between Tradition and History.”
The wall around Hattusa was more than 6 miles long and had several decorated gates. Visitors to the city would enter through the Lion Gate—named for the stone lions on either side of the entrance. The lion was a symbol of protection, defiance and royalty in Hittite culture. Photo: Sonia Halliday Photographs/Photo by Jane Taylor.

According to the BAR article, “[T]his still leaves us with an open question regarding the references to the Hittites during the time of the patriarchs. To a certain extent, the composition history of the Pentateuch may be relevant to this discussion. If one were to assume that these narratives depict historical realities that were written down close to the time of occurrence, then one might conclude that the references are to the original Hittites rather than the Neo-Hittites. However, the majority of scholars believe that these narratives were composed hundreds of years after the events that they describe and often contain anachronisms for the time of composition superimposed on the narrative time. This would suggest that the references reflect the Neo-Hittites.”

So who were the Hittites? The older Hittites never self-identified as Hittites, but called their language Nesite and their land Hatti, referring to themselves as the people of Hatti. Had scholars known from the beginning what has been subsequently uncovered, these people would probably be called Nesites or perhaps Nesians. When the once-mighty kingdom collapsed, those in the former Syrian vassal states kept the culture alive, becoming the Neo-Hittites. The archaeological record reveals the story of the original Hittites, while the Bible refers mostly to the Neo-Hittites.

For more on the Hittites as told through archaeology and the Bible, read the full article“The Hittites—Between Tradition and History” in the March/April 2016 issue ofBiblical Archaeology Review.